FSC as a tool to reach the Sustainable Development Goals

By Ida Rehnström

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created as a framework for global change. They highlight key focus areas for the planet to be reached by 2030. Of the 17 SDG’s, FSC is relevant to indicators for at least 14 of them.

In the keynote session Demonstrating the Value of Forests, Forest Products and Services as Catalysts for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  we got to hear about FSC’s relevance to SDGs from different perspectives including voices from intergovernmental organizations, businesses, NGOs, governments and the financial sector. The panel in general left no doubt about the urgency with which all actors in society must act if we are to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Fran Price, Global Forest Practice Lead at WWF put it this way: SDGs are our global blueprint for dignity, peace and prosperity for people and the planet. They are the first goal-based universal action plan for global cooperation. So many countries and NGOs like WWF International and so many groups, are framing their objectives in terms of the SDGs.”

How is FSC relevant to the global agendas?

The big question during the session was how FSC solutions can become more relevant and better suited to meet the needs of global agendas and how to enhance FSC’s role in fulfilling the SDG’s.

Bringing a governmental perspective, Felix Romero Cañizares, Director General of Natural Environment and Biodiversity in Castilla-La Mancha, said: “FSC has inspired us as a regional government to change legislation (…) to measure and fully value ecosystem services because we were looking at what FSC was doing.” Underlining how FSC should play a strong role in sharing cases to motivate governments globally.

Steve Johnson, Director of the Division of Trade and Industry at the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) highlighted the role of tropical timber saying that: “Certainly, there is a lot of work for everybody to do, including FSC in trying to make sure that we see more certified forests in the tropics where, let’s face it, most of the problems with deforestation and forest degradation exists, so we need to work more together on that.”

Moving forward in being relevant to the SDG’s and global change and expanding the role of a growing range of forest products, Glenda Lee, Board Member of Foundation Defensores de la Naturaleza emphasized the role of Non-Timber-Forest-Products in particular Natural Rubber as essential drivers to accelerate the delivery of the SDG’s and amplify benefits for society overall.

Fernanda Rodrigues who is a Board member of Forest Womens Network, linked further the role of FSC certification to SDG 5 on gender equality, underlining FSC’s key role in leading by example, saying: FSC is the world’s most credible forest certification system and I think FSC plays a very important role inspiring other sectors to also promote gender equality within their systems.”

The role of markets, partnerships, and collaboration

During the session, Udo Felten, Manager Product Related Global Environmental Sustainability and affairs at SIG emphasized the role of impact data and further transparency as crucial aspects to help the private sector demonstrate their sustainability commitments within their supply chains.

The importance of impact data was not only recognized as a priority for the forestry sector, but also as one of FSC’s value proposition for the market and economic systems. Maria Adelaida Correa Ruiz, Corporate Director of Sustainability at Interconexión Eléctrica S.A, whose business is energy transmission, reflected on the expanding connections with of forests as nature-based-solutions for other sectors not directly linked to forestry.

Ben Vickers, Senior Specialist at Green Climate Fund Secretariat, brought the session’s financial perspective on how SDG 15 “Life on Land” will need to entail forest restoration, highlighting that in only monetary terms the value invested in forest restoration is currently multiplied by 7 to 30 times.

A common theme that emerged from Thursday’s panel focused on the importance of SDG 17, which is on partnership for the goals, highlighting the importance of working collaboratively towards reaching the SDG’s. Dr Musonda Mumba , Secretary General at Convention on Wetlands & FSC Africa Advisory Committee Member highlighted the role of partnerships and collaboration:

We cannot do this alone. We cannot bring changes in nature without collaboration, partnerships and learning from each other.”

FSC was urged to continue to be the safe space for dialogue and many panelists pointed to the fact that FSC already has tools in place for many types of sectors to use if they want to work towards the SDG goals.

Watch this video to learn more about the importance of Forest Stewardship.